Warsaw (MTI) – Strengthening national capital and making it competitive is not only a business matter but also a matter of freedom, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday after receiving a prestigious award from the Polish economic chamber in Warsaw.
Orban said he could not imagine a free Hungary or Poland where national capital is pushed into the background and denied help in order to overcome a disadvantage to the West resulting from forty years of communism.
He said he had always appreciated the European Union’s rules on free competition but believed it is an obligation of central European countries to make every possible effort to strengthen national capital, albeit within the limits allowed by EU rules.
He described Hungary to his audience of around 200-250 people as a “black sheep” in political terms and a “success story” in economic ones. “We want to change out poor reputation that has developed by demonstrating our economic success that makes us winners,” he added.
He urged “everyday economic cooperation” between Hungary and Poland to be strengthened. “Europe’s future is here in central Europe.”
Orban said some 341 Polish companies operate in Hungary and last year Polish-Hungarian trade grew by more than 7 percent.
On Europe, he said, “The project called the EU has got stuck for the time being.” Monetary union has not been followed by a fiscal union and opinions greatly vary about the role of the European Central Bank, and the continent is on a losing track in the global race.”
“Uncomfortable truths” must be faced, he said. Nobody will do the homework for others, and a European boom cannot happen while troubled countries fail top sort out their own economic problems. Few dare to say in Europe that harder work must be done for the same money, Orban added.
To change Europe’s situation, a political leadership is needed, Orban said, adding that Europe’s energy situation is also among the “uncomfortable issues”. High energy prices are the main reason for the lack of Europe’s competitiveness and “someone will sooner or later need to say aloud that for countries like us, who are not rich enough, alternative energy is almost impossible to finance”. Nuclear energy is unavoidable in Europe, he added.
An “especially uncomfortable truth … is that we cannot develop competitive energy prices without Russian involvement in the European energy market,” Orban said. “When it comes to the issue of energy in Europe today, price trumps all else and the climate only comes second,” he added.
Commenting on the crisis in Ukraine, Orban said differences between countries are plain while everybody argues for maintaining Europe’s unity. “We Hungarians also share this view because Europe must demonstrate strength; and if there is no unity there is no strength either.”
Orban received the Golden Umbrella award in recognition of his economic policy.